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Smart Microbial Cells Couple Catalysis and Sensing to Provide High-Throughput Selection of an Organophosphate Hydrolase

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journal contribution
posted on 11.05.2020, 18:07 by Ramesh K. Jha, Charlie E. M. Strauss
Enzyme engineering for gain of function requires navigating a large combinatorial sequence space efficiently. Typically, many mutations are needed to get significant improvements, while a single “bad” mutation can inactivate the enzyme. To establish high-throughput screening and achieve enhanced resolution between two variants, genetic libraries of the organophosphate hydrolase enzyme paraoxonase 1 (PON1) were rapidly screened via an engineered positive-feedback circuit: a p-nitrophenol (PNP)-specific transcription factor (TF) regulated expression of PON1, which catalyzed paraoxon breakdown and PNP production. Rare active mutant colonies, picked by simple visual fluorescence of a PON1–green fluorescent protein (GFP) fusion, were characterized. In a single screening round, high (library-scale) throughput enabled the discovery of enhanced paraoxon degradation activity in PON1, including structurally unexpected mutations.